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Session on roles and interactions for smooth LOFAR DRAGNET operations

Submitter: Alexander S. van Amesfoort, on behalf of the DRAGNET team
Description: With the technical hurdles of DRAGNET in LOFAR operations behind us, we focused for a moment on softer matters before developing the next instrumental extension.

DRAGNET is a user managed cluster that can directly take data from the COBALT correlator/beamformer. It communicates with Observatory support systems for monitoring & control and for maintenance & testing. This introduces a shared operational responsibility between the Observatory and the DRAGNET team.
To ensure everyone is on the same page with the roles, interactions and tooling, we organized a session for telescope scientists, observers, observatory software developers, and DRAGNET science users to inform them and to hear from them. About 25 people attended, some having to sit on the side stand in the Oort meeting room.

The image on the left shows Jason Hessels presenting a short introduction. After that, Alexander explained how to operate DRAGNET (a slide is shown on the right) and how to ensure it remains operational in a changing environment.

An open discussion followed the presentations. Some of the discussion topics were: 1) The need to resolve the lack of DRAGNET observation inspection plots to quickly assess the result of an observation. 2) How DRAGNET can participate in Observatory tests after software roll-outs and other system changes. (Collaboration on this already ramped up a few days later.) 3) To revisit pipeline processing to be automatically suspended & restarted at the start & end of observations. We have annotated the discussion outcomes in the slides for future reference, perhaps in a more formal, written agreement after several months of operational experience.

The DRAGNET team would like to thank all participants for their interest and input! The 6 science observations so far were successful.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement nr. 337062 (PI Hessels). J.W.T.H. acknowledges funding from an NWO Vidi fellowship.
Copyright: ASTRON, photo by Cees Bassa
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